Upon its arrival in May 2009, Passion Pit‘s Manners became one of the first indie albums to transcend the blogosphere into public consciousness, and by the end of 2010, what started as Michael Angelakos’ bedroom project had turned into an adrenaline rush of gold records and sold-out club shows. After spending nearly three years holed up in the studio crafting Manners‘ follow up, Angelakos has produced Gossamer, an album that bests its already-sharp predecessor in every aspect. Although still built around chiming synth lines and bouncy rhythms, Angelakos’ lyrics are now more personal and more harrowing than ever. His struggles with mental illness have now been widely publicized in a fascinating and heartbreaking Pitchfork feature, and although the group has been forced to cancel a number of shows on the tour, the gigs they have played have shown that they’ve evolved into a more fully-formed and confident live act as a result of the extensive touring behind Manners.
For their Bumbershoot Music Lounge set, Passion Pit elected to take a stripped-down semi-acoustic approach for the more intimate theater setting. Angelakos opened solo with acoustic guitar on “I’ve Got Your Number”, a quiet confessional that held the audience spellbound. Then two other members of Passion Pit came out to add keyboards, synths, and guitars for the rest of the set. After a gentle take on the usually-anthemic “Moth’s Wings”, Angelakos asked if the audience was going to Passion Pit’s main set later tonight and joked, “You guys look like Skrillex fans.”
“Sleepyhead” was pared down to a lullaby, with a tinkling toy-piano line instead of the usual wild synth sound. Afterwards, Angelakos explained, “When we do acoustic sets it’s really confusing, ‘cause…” (played a note on the synth)… “we try…” And then he cracked up as a heavy synth drumbeat started for “Take a Walk”. Judging by these comments, fans can expect the full Passion Pit experience tonight, which made it a special treat to get these versions. The restraint also showed the substance and songwriting underneath the shimmer and flash of the usual synth-heavy sound.
While explaining about the challenge of playing acoustic versions of their material, Angelakos exclaimed, “We practiced!” The practice paid off beautifully, as you can hear soon in the KEXP streaming archive. Bumbershoot attendees who missed this set can still see Passion Pit tonight on the TuneIn Stage at Fisher Green at 9:15 pm.